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Talking about giftedness with your kids/CTY


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My youngest child masters academic tasks quickly.  He works quickly, and gets straight A's without seeming to put in any effort.  In his school he is on the highest math track of any of the kids in his grade.  He was invited to our county's middle school magnet for highly capable kids, although we chose another school. But we've never done any formal testing, and haven't used the gifted label with him.  His best friend is his cousin, who has been identified as gifted, and whose parents use that label frequently.  

Last night my kid came to me and told me that cousin is going to a sleep away camp for gifted kids, I'm guessing CTY, and he wonders if he could take the test and maybe go too.  He said "I'm good at tests so maybe I can trick them into thinking I'm gifted, and they'll let me go."  I am not sure if he was being silly, or if he really believes that.  

So, I feel like we need to have a conversation, but I'm wondering how other people approach these conversations.  

Also, I'm guessing the program is CTY, so if anyone has experience with them I'd love to hear it.   I'm on the fence for other reasons to do with the cousin dynamic and the cost and whether we can sort out visitation with his Dad, but I'd love to hear from other people whose kids have done it.  I also heard that they cancelled camps last summer at the last minute and blamed covid?  Is that true or am I confusing them with some other camp?  I need childcare for him, so a last minute cancellation would be a major problem. 

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I always emphasize with my kids how vague and nebulous (and largely unhelpful) all those types of labels are. I stress that our focus needs to be on researching and interpreting how a given person/organization is using the label so we can determine if an opportunity would be a good fit for the child in question.

As an example, we talk about the fact that locally we have four different music camps for gifted/advanced/talented piano players. Two of them would be wildly below Spencer's level; one would be at Spencer's level, but won't let him in because they only admit high schoolers; and one would be a huge challenge for Spencer and honestly is probably aimed at kids more exceptional than him.

So instead of ever telling my kids "you are gifted" (implying that "giftedness" falls along a straightforward, bimodal distribution), I use phrases like "your brain seems to process X easily", "you are accelerated in Y compared to many kids your age", and "your interested in Z has led to you being very skilled".

In your case, I might explore what interested your son about the camp idea - I think that would be very telling. Is it just sleep away camp of any type that he find intriguing? Is it the giftedness aspect? Is it that his cousin is going?

I would also probably offer to administer a practice PSAT/SAT test if he wanted to have an idea of what his score might be.

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3 hours ago, wendyroo said:

I always emphasize with my kids how vague and nebulous (and largely unhelpful) all those types of labels are. I stress that our focus needs to be on researching and interpreting how a given person/organization is using the label so we can determine if an opportunity would be a good fit for the child in question.

As an example, we talk about the fact that locally we have four different music camps for gifted/advanced/talented piano players. Two of them would be wildly below Spencer's level; one would be at Spencer's level, but won't let him in because they only admit high schoolers; and one would be a huge challenge for Spencer and honestly is probably aimed at kids more exceptional than him.

So instead of ever telling my kids "you are gifted" (implying that "giftedness" falls along a straightforward, bimodal distribution), I use phrases like "your brain seems to process X easily", "you are accelerated in Y compared to many kids your age", and "your interested in Z has led to you being very skilled".

In your case, I might explore what interested your son about the camp idea - I think that would be very telling. Is it just sleep away camp of any type that he find intriguing? Is it the giftedness aspect? Is it that his cousin is going?

I would also probably offer to administer a practice PSAT/SAT test if he wanted to have an idea of what his score might be.

I've usually talked about it the same way you do.  But what he's taken away from that seems to be that this word "gifted" applies to his cousins and not him.  His comment about how he could "trick" them by getting a high score on the test was interesting, like somehow if he took the entrance exam and got in that would be cheating.  It's also possible that he has figured out that the word applies to him, and he was just being ridiculous, as he definitely has that streak.  

Assuming his cousin has taken whatever test they need and qualified (it's possible they haven't yet) I would guess my kid would too.  They've both taken the same testing for our local public school's program for highly capable kids, and for AOPS classes, and his score has consistently been higher.  

I don't know what he knows about the camp.  I think he likes the idea of flying on a plane, and sleeping away from home,  being with his cousin without family drama.  The kids are really similar in what they like, so my guess is if my SIL and BIL picked something that cousin would like, he'd probably like it too.  

 

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CTY did cancel several camps last year at the last minute. They had issues with COVID, particularly with regards to staffing. Be aware that they are QUITE pricey. I do think the in person activities are better than the online ones, which honestly were of similar quality to online classes that were half the price, and didn't seem terribly selective. 

 

FWIW, applying to work at gifted summer programs is something L's doing for this summer, along with research programs. The emotional benefits were absolutely huge as a kid, and the idea of now being able to help others have that experience is very appealing. 

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53 minutes ago, Dmmetler said:

CTY did cancel several camps last year at the last minute. They had issues with COVID, particularly with regards to staffing. Be aware that they are QUITE pricey. I do think the in person activities are better than the online ones, which honestly were of similar quality to online classes that were half the price, and didn't seem terribly selective. 

Yeah, the price is eye opening.  

53 minutes ago, Dmmetler said:

FWIW, applying to work at gifted summer programs is something L's doing for this summer, along with research programs. The emotional benefits were absolutely huge as a kid, and the idea of now being able to help others have that experience is very appealing. 

I know that there are kids who are gifted who feel that they socialize better with kids with similar IQ's.  I haven't seen that with this kid.  He's also a kid who is really good at challenging himself, so I don't really see the boredom that so many people talk about being an issue. 

Are there other emotional benefits I'm not thinking of?  

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1 hour ago, BandH said:

Yeah, the price is eye opening.  

I know that there are kids who are gifted who feel that they socialize better with kids with similar IQ's.  I haven't seen that with this kid.  He's also a kid who is really good at challenging himself, so I don't really see the boredom that so many people talk about being an issue. 

Are there other emotional benefits I'm not thinking of?  

For L, it was definitely being a fish in a pond of similar fish, not being either a very, very intense minnow in a pool of catfish, or being a shark in a pool of minnows. And getting to put faces to voices from Athena's and G3 was extremely valuable as well. But L's a pretty major statistical outlier. 

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1 hour ago, BandH said:

I know that there are kids who are gifted who feel that they socialize better with kids with similar IQ's.  I haven't seen that with this kid.  He's also a kid who is really good at challenging himself, so I don't really see the boredom that so many people talk about being an issue. 

Are there other emotional benefits I'm not thinking of?  

In my experience, this starts mattering more when the kids get older. At 11, I didn't care all that much. At 14, I cared a lot.  

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I think that if a kid is content, there aren't necessarily going to be emotional benefits.  And that can vary by kid even in similar environments.  My kid is part of a group of smart homeschooled kids.  They do Science Olympiad and quiz bowl together and have had at least some co-op classes together every year since they were in elementary.  But, it's interesting.  They know that they are smart, but for some it's a much bigger part of their identity than others.  The kid who has the highest scores is the one who cares the least about labels and has no interest in participating in any of the camps, while for another kid the camp, or governor's school, is one of the highlights of their year  Maybe it's a difference in home situation, or extroversion, or ability to self-motivate, or competitiveness, it's hard to know.  

As for how we talk about giftedness, we say that there are tests that are pretty good at detecting specific kinds of ability, and that the kids have scores that indicate that they are good at those things.  That likely makes certain types of activities easier for them, and there are programs that can offer more challenge if they are interested.  In general, my kids are happy to use their time in other ways, which is fine.  We also talk about how giftedness is a measure of potential in certain areas, but says nothing about what will be accomplished because gifted with no work and hard work with average ability often wind up in comparable, although sometimes different, places as people get older, and most often success is a combo of aptitude, effort, and, depending on the situation, a dash of luck.  

During the 7th grade year when older chose to do talent search testing, kid couldn't understand why people got excited about scores.  From kid's perspective, you celebrate accomplishing something that you've worked towards.  For this, kid just took a test and it measured what kid knew.  Nothing to be proud of in that.  So, that kid isn't impressed with the idea of giftedness.  It's just something that is, like being short or tall or musical or athletic.  

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1 hour ago, Dmmetler said:

For L, it was definitely being a fish in a pond of similar fish, not being either a very, very intense minnow in a pool of catfish, or being a shark in a pool of minnows. And getting to put faces to voices from Athena's and G3 was extremely valuable as well. But L's a pretty major statistical outlier. 

I think that part of it is he's not an intense kid academically at all.  He does his work as efficiently as he can so he can get to get his A so he can back to the things he's passionate about which are mostly not academic.  

He's also a pretty intensely athletically competitive kid, but is weirdly not competitive about academics at all.   

I asked him today about the "tricking" thing and he said he was just "being silly", but when I asked him if he wanted to know if he was gifted he sort of shrugged and said "yes".  I asked him why and he said "when my cousin brags about being gifted, I'll know if I am too", and I asked if he'd tell cousin and he said no he just wanted to know.  I got the impression that he wants to take the test, more than that he wants to go to sleep away camp.  

So, maybe I'll let him test, just for curiosity, and then we'll take it from there.  

Does anyone know how much downtime, or how many sports options there are at CTY camp?  This is my kid who regulates through a huge amount of exercise, and when I look at the camp schedule, I think he might struggle if there's not either down time that he could use on his own to exercise or something structured.  

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If my 12yo asked to be tested, I'd test him/her, but there would be a rule against sharing or comparing with other kids' IQs.

No experience with CTY camps.  I doubt it would be a fit for my kids, and I doubt I'd send my middle-schooler that far away for camp.

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My kid went to CTY camp last summer (just after 7th grade). They have really good financial aid, so it wasn't expensive for us, other than the travel. I was hoping that my geeky kid who has zero in person friends would make some connections. It didn't work out that way for him. He said all the kids were really good at making friends right away except for him. He really enjoyed the academics (he took a Data Structures and Algorithms class), but not the social piece. Now he says he refuses to do anything like that (e.g. interacting with other humans) ever again, and is worried he will hate college because of the social piece. So it backfired for us, but largely because my kid really is socially awkward -- too much so even for geek camp, I guess. 

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I completely agree that giftedness is just another unearned attribute, like being tall.  But we don’t hesitate to acknowledge that tall people are tall.  I try to be upfront with my kids.  Yes, you did scored really well on that test, your brain is really good at solving those kinds of problems, people with that kind of brain often do really well at certain things.  But those tests don’t measure all the things that brains can do well and  hard work can be more important than what kind of brain you have.  And having that kind of brain has disadvantages too.  (This is a silver lining of having 2E kids?  They are very aware that brains have pros and cons!)  I haven’t used the word “gifted” but if my kids knew the word existed I wouldn’t deny it.  I’m not against labels per-se, we freely use the word Autism, but the “gifted” label suggests a binary gifted/not-gifted that lacks nuance.  

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22 hours ago, BandH said:

But what he's taken away from that seems to be that this word "gifted" applies to his cousins and not him.  His comment about how he could "trick" them by getting a high score on the test was interesting, like somehow if he took the entrance exam and got in that would be cheating.  It's also possible that he has figured out that the word applies to him, and he was just being ridiculous, as he definitely has that streak.

One of mine talks like this, too. They're an adult now, but still continue to express imposter syndrome when it comes to intelligence. My understanding is imposter syndrome is pretty common in bright kids.

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I never heard of Imposter Syndrome. but it makes sense.  I consider myself average, but I'm in Mensa (high IQ group).  I've often said that I "test well," and I know I'm not the only one that says that.  I do find myself happier when I'm not the smartest one.   I remember one time drinking beer with other Mensans and saying that it is nice working where I'm not the smartest one in the break room.  Most people's eyes glazed over as they dreamed of that happening.  
 

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I think some of the imposter syndrome may come from the fact that a high IQ sometimes doesn’t come with any benefits beyond the academic and some of these kids are acutely aware that peopling is harder for them that it is for a lot of other kids, so it doesn’t feel like they have this great benefit that other people talk like giftedness is. In our family, life difficulty seems in many ways inversely proportional to IQ. I think there’s a sweet spot at the mildly gifted range where kids have an easy time with academics, but also with a lot of other things. Highly and profoundly gifted often (not always, of course) seem to go with a lot of other baggage that makes life harder. 

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3 hours ago, KSera said:

I think some of the imposter syndrome may come from the fact that a high IQ sometimes doesn’t come with any benefits beyond the academic and some of these kids are acutely aware that peopling is harder for them that it is for a lot of other kids, so it doesn’t feel like they have this great benefit that other people talk like giftedness is. In our family, life difficulty seems in many ways inversely proportional to IQ. I think there’s a sweet spot at the mildly gifted range where kids have an easy time with academics, but also with a lot of other things. Highly and profoundly gifted often (not always, of course) seem to go with a lot of other baggage that makes life harder. 

I've read about that sweet spot. I think it's something like 130-135? There's the intellectual capacity to excel at most things, but there isn't that feeling of being so different to your age-peers that you feel like an alien. 

 

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23 minutes ago, chocolate-chip chooky said:

I've read about that sweet spot. I think it's something like 130-135? There's the intellectual capacity to excel at most things, but there isn't that feeling of being so different to your age-peers that you feel like an alien. 

 

I didn’t even know it was written about specifically. That’s interesting. But yes, that fits with my anecdotal experience of a range of family members. 

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1 minute ago, KSera said:

I didn’t even know it was written about specifically. That’s interesting. But yes, that fits with my anecdotal experience of a range of family members. 

When I was trying to understand my daughter (and help her understand and accept herself), I read everything I could get my hands on. 

@BandH I hope you work out how best to navigate this. 

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1 hour ago, chocolate-chip chooky said:

I've read about that sweet spot. I think it's something like 130-135? There's the intellectual capacity to excel at most things, but there isn't that feeling of being so different to your age-peers that you feel like an alien. 

I'd guess it's not just IQ based, too. Probably has to do with interests and intensity and all sorts of things. 

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28 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I'd guess it's not just IQ based, too. Probably has to do with interests and intensity and all sorts of things. 

Yeah, I think it's a variety of things.  

My kid can be quite intense, but his intensity mostly comes out in ways that aren't school related.   His interests are either things he shares with adults (e.g. he cooks with his aunt, or does woodworking with his grandfather), or they're sports, and it's easy to find peers who share his sports interest.  

16 hours ago, SKL said:

If my 12yo asked to be tested, I'd test him/her, but there would be a rule against sharing or comparing with other kids' IQs.

I'm not going to put any limits on what he shares with his cousin.  His cousin and aunt have been really obnoxious on the topic, and if he chose to be obnoxious back I would be OK with that.  I'm pretty sure that, from being on the receiving end with his cousin, he knows not to be obnoxious about it himself.  

I talked to cousin's Dad, and I think that this particular camp isn't the right fit for us at this time.  I asked him if he wanted to do another, closer CTY camp and it seems like his interest was mostly about being with his cousin.   He said he gets enough "school", and he likes camps that are "camp".   So, I might look for something closer and shorter and more camp like that they can do together.   

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6 hours ago, KSera said:

I think some of the imposter syndrome may come from the fact that a high IQ sometimes doesn’t come with any benefits beyond the academic and some of these kids are acutely aware that peopling is harder for them that it is for a lot of other kids, so it doesn’t feel like they have this great benefit that other people talk like giftedness is. In our family, life difficulty seems in many ways inversely proportional to IQ. I think there’s a sweet spot at the mildly gifted range where kids have an easy time with academics, but also with a lot of other things. Highly and profoundly gifted often (not always, of course) seem to go with a lot of other baggage that makes life harder. 

I don't know that he has imposter syndrome.  I agree that the comment sounds like imposter syndrome, but day to day I don't see it.  He's pretty confident in his skills, he just keeps them private. 

 

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37 minutes ago, Malam said:

Oh, I hadn’t actually read that existing scores link.  That’s easy we have some of those.  
 

So, to get into CTY you just need academic scores?   Not IQ or aptitude?   

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eIMACS, Stanford OHS, NuMATS, Belin-Blank, VAMPY,Summer Institute for the Gifted, Program for Talented Youth, and probably some more that Imdon't know about. Also, for non-academic, but that focus on Social, PG Retreat and Yunasa. 

 

These vary as far as focus, selectivity and qualifications. Some, like Athena's and G3 are a matter of signing up, some use standardized tests percentiles, and some basically require a neuropsych eval to have the right tests. Some are online, some in person, and some are summer only. (Basically all of these have been presenters/vendors at the DYS summit at some point in the last 10 years). 

 

It has been my experience that often the ones that allow self ID are better at dealing with more quirky kids than the ones that have more gatekeeping-in part because they were often set up by parents of kids for whom the existing programs were not quite right. Of the ones listed, the top 3 as far as impact for L were Athena's, Online G3, and Davidson, particularly STARS. CTY and Belin-Blank were less so (although Belin-Blank put us on the path to DYS). AoPS was great as far as curriculum, and L LOVED getting to do workshops with RR, but the classes were a miss. We never went beyond the first free eIMACS class. 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Dmmetler said:

eIMACS, Stanford OHS, NuMATS, Belin-Blank, VAMPY,Summer Institute for the Gifted, Program for Talented Youth, and probably some more that Imdon't know about. Also, for non-academic, but that focus on Social, PG Retreat and Yunasa. 

 

These vary as far as focus, selectivity and qualifications. Some, like Athena's and G3 are a matter of signing up, some use standardized tests percentiles, and some basically require a neuropsych eval to have the right tests. Some are online, some in person, and some are summer only. (Basically all of these have been presenters/vendors at the DYS summit at some point in the last 10 years). 

 

It has been my experience that often the ones that allow self ID are better at dealing with more quirky kids than the ones that have more gatekeeping-in part because they were often set up by parents of kids for whom the existing programs were not quite right. Of the ones listed, the top 3 as far as impact for L were Athena's, Online G3, and Davidson, particularly STARS. CTY and Belin-Blank were less so (although Belin-Blank put us on the path to DYS). AoPS was great as far as curriculum, and L LOVED getting to do workshops with RR, but the classes were a miss. We never went beyond the first free eIMACS class. 

 

Thanks, I will check those out.  I'm not sure we need anything, but now I'm curious.  We aren't in a state with a Governor's school, although we do have some good magnet options for high school. 

Although DS12 has his moments, I think in some ways the reason why people underestimate him is because he's not particularly quirky, at least not in the way people think of when they think of quirky gifted kids. 

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On 1/14/2023 at 12:27 PM, BandH said:

Oh, I hadn’t actually read that existing scores link.  That’s easy we have some of those.  
 

So, to get into CTY you just need academic scores?   Not IQ or aptitude?   

I think so, yes. They're not in the business of excluding kids 

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